Q: I moved in with my partner when he bought a house six years ago. We both have children from previous relationships and my daughter lives with us. My father keeps on at me about us making Wills, otherwise he reckons my daughter and I could lose our home if anything happened to my partner. Surely if we are common law partners this couldn’t happen? It just seems a bit extreme to be making Wills in our thirties.
A: Unfortunately, unless you are married or in a civil partnership the law says you would be entitled to absolutely nothing from your partner’s estate if he were to die intestate, i.e. without making a Will.
Intestacy law did change on October 1st this year, but it did not improve the situation for the surviving partner of a non-legally binding relationship where the deceased partner has passed away intestate.
In the case of an unmarried couple who do not have children, the law treats both partners as single people and orders that the deceased’s entire estate should go to their blood relatives if they have not made a Will. First in line are the parents of the deceased, then their siblings and then their nieces and nephews.
If the unmarried couple do have children, the same rules apply but the children will be the first blood relatives in line. This can be particularly problematic if both partners have children from a previous relationship, because the children of the deceased would inherit the deceased’s entire estate and the surviving partner and their offspring would get nothing.
There really is no financial protection for surviving partners who are not married or in a civil partnership, unless the deceased partner has made a Will. I would therefore urge you and your partner to make Wills as a matter of urgency.